Veteran who built memorial attends ceremony yearly

Amber Armstrong

Amber Armstrong

Members of the armed forces were honored during the 16th annual ceremony at the Brookings Memorial on Veteran’s Day.

Air Force ROTC (AFROTC) cadets began a 24-hour vigil at the memorial beginning at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, that continued through the night to honor those who have or who are currently serving our country. The cadets marched in half-hour increments continuously for 24 hours.

“It is a privilege to be a part of this to honor those who fought on our behalf. It’s our way of saying thanks,” said SDSU student Brendan McQuown, one of the cadets.

The ceremony’s guest speaker, Ret. Brig. Gen. Ronald Mielke, spoke on behalf of the armed forces.

“Today, America calls upon its military to fight and win the war on terrorism,” he said. “We must continue to preserve the freedom and our way of life.”

Mielke said that the armed forces need to do their part to allow people to continue to enjoy the freedoms some take for granted, and says the country relies heavily on our young people willing to serve voluntarily.

“People willing to serve have been the key to our past successes and continue to be the key to our current successes,” Mielke said.

Mielke also said the armed forces need the most intelligent, talented and motivated people more than ever due to the technical knowledge needed to run the advanced technological systems today.

The closing ceremony ended with the extinguishing of a lamp that burned during the vigil while two WWII planes performed a flyby over the memorial.

Veteran Harry Jones, designer of the memorial, built the monument 16 years ago to help honor the veterans who made the supreme sacrifice.

He became motivated after seeing a memorial in Arizona honoring those involved in Pearl Harbor.

“The community needed something as a constant reminder of the sacrifices made so we can enjoy our freedoms today,” said Jones.

Jones was involved with ROTC when he attended SDSU over 50 years ago. He now attends the Veteran’s Day ceremony every year.

Currently, he is working on a second memorial to be erected close to the current one featuring war planes. No plans have been finalized.

Although most of the AFROTC members present at the ceremony agreed that Americans owe gratitude to those who fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice by losing their lives, they had different reasons for joining AFROTC.

Nathaniel LaVoie has been involved with the Air Guards, but not ROTC, for over two years. He says that he joined the Air Force after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 because it was the right thing to do.

“I’ve got a lot of pride in America and I stand behind Bush. He started this war and I want to see him finish it,” said LaVoie.

LaVoie also says that along with the satisfaction that comes with serving your country, the financial help with school is a major incentive.

As a plaque on the memorial states, “Dedicated to the men and women of the armed forces past-present-future who performed their patriotic duty so we can enjoy the freedoms of democracy,” the armed forces continue to fight to keep the freedoms we may take for granted.